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Image / Editorial

Coronavirus: Minister for Health Simon Harris warns becoming complacent could be ‘fatal’

by Edaein OConnell
20th Apr 2020

Minister for Health Simon Harris has warned public complacency when it comes to Covid-19 restrictions could be “fatal” 

In a video message on Twitter, Minister for Health Simon Harris said he fears some complacency is setting in regarding the current Covid-19 restrictions.

His comments came after yesterday’s confirmation that 39 people had died from the virus in Ireland, while a further 445 new cases were confirmed. This number included 48 tests from a backlog that had been sent to Germany.

In the clip posted last night, the Minister said: “[I have] a little bit of fear that there’s an air of complacency creeping in in relation to Ireland’s battle against Covid-19 that we have to push back against.

“I am hearing stories … of people beginning to somewhat relax their interpretation of the phrase ‘stay at home’ or the 2km rule or keeping the social distance, the two metres.”

He continued, “I can’t have a situation where all the amazing work you’ve done is undone in these two weeks, so please, please keep at it, stay at home. That is how we are going to save lives.

“Now is not the time for complacency, let’s get through these next two weeks and that will enable us to get to a situation … where we’ll be able to look at where we’re at, and consider what’s next for Ireland.

“My message tonight is to not allow complacency to set in … That would be disastrous. It could potentially be fatal.”

Mr Harris also pointed out that restrictions would not magically disappear on May 5, and that it would not be a “light switch moment”. He also said the virus would be with us for the long-term and that no decisions to open schools or lift restrictions would be made without approval from public health officials.


School reopening 

In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Minister Harris said the government is looking at a number of options to deal with the school questions. One of these is the possibility of schools opening once a week.

He told the paper, “I’d like to see a situation whereby our schools could come back or at least could partially come back… I’d like to see a situation where you could expand somewhat the areas in which people can go beyond their home. I’m conscious of the fact that cocooning may well remain a reality for quite a period of time because we know people, once they reach a certain age, are vulnerable.”

He also said pubs are unlikely to reopen to max capacity until a vaccine or treatment is found.

While he praised the GAA for its actions regarding the virus, he warned it was improbable that mass gatherings and sports events would take place this year.

“It’s highly unlikely we’re going to be seeing very large kind of mass gatherings this year. Could you get to a point where you can’t have massive GAA matches, but you could have your local kids having a kickabout safely, that’s the sort of space that we’re in, that we need to work our way through.”

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